Originally published in The Daily Iowan 7/13/2009
Students are racking up police records along with bar wristbands and empty bottles.
According to a UI report, the number of students charged with non-traffic-related crimes rose by 12.5 percent from 2007-08 academic year to 2008-09.
During that nine-month period, local law enforcement cited 1,194 students. The citation rate for undergraduate males was 8.3 percent.
Fraternities had the highest rate, with 15 percent of members receiving citations — up from 13 percent the previous year.
But Sean Prendergast, the vice president of public relations and marketing for the Interfraternity Council, pointed out the 2 percentage point rise roughly equaled increases in other student groups.
“We are trying to put on activities that take place on nights that people normally are drinking,” he said.
Male athletes came in second with a citation rate of 10.5 percent, more than twice the percentage of female athletes who faced charges. While the rate of male athletes increased by 3 percentage points, female athletes saw little change.
UI Assistant Director of Athletics Rick Klatt said he wasn’t familiar with the numbers.
Overall, 530 more male students were charged than female. Almost 6 percent of all women in a sorority were cited last year, the highest of any female group.
While this number is an increase from last year, UI Panhellenic Association President Treacy Weldon said that group is working with the Interfraternity Council to find ways to reduce binge drinking and prevent citations and arrests. She also noted a lack of alternative entertainment downtown, a perennial discussion among university and local officials.
“There’s no movie theater, bowling alley, or anything,” she said.
The greek community and athletics aren’t the only major organizations facing this problem. More than 10 percent of males and 3 percent of females living in residence halls were cited, a slight decrease from the previous year.
Von Stange, the director of University House, noted a distinction between crimes committed by students off-campus. Furthermore, residence-hall officials primary focus on drug and alcohol possession in their buildings.
He noted that assault — roughly 2 percent of 2008-09 crimes — is also a concern.
While the overall charge rate is up from the previous two years, it’s almost 29 percent lower than during the 2005-06 academic year, when local police cited 1,678 students.
DI reporter Alina Rubezhova contributed to this report.